Art Basel 2013: Artist Carlito Dalceggio Fuses Buddhist Dogma and Disney

The Ricart Gallery's newest location is planted firmly in the heart of Wynwood's Art District. The walls are a bright white, and positioned neatly at the front windows -- as well as the roof of the building -- are two Pinocchio statues painted by artist Carlito Dalceggio. Some might remember Dalceggio's 2011 Art Basel exhibit, also hosted by the Ricart Gallery, titled "Death of Lies."

Now, Dalceggio is back in Miami once again for Art Basel and imagining all sorts of new creations with a hint of Disney magic for his "To Set Fire in the Heart of the World" exhibit. Instead of Pinocchio, this time Dalceggio is experimenting with Mickey Mouse's head and Buddha's body.

Originally from Montreal, Canada, Dalceggio travels the world taking art and transforming it for new audiences every chance he gets. Using the money he makes from one show, he funds a studio in a new city and begins a new art project. Dalceggio has showcased his art in Paris, Mexico, Shanghai, Bali, New York City, Istanbul, and of course, his hometown of Montreal.

When Dalceggio works on his art, he says, he forgets the natural order of time and spends countless hours in his studio. Taking refuge in the second floor of the Ricart Gallery, Dalceggio has the freedom to work all day and all night if he pleases.

When we reached the second floor of Ricart Gallery, it was like walking into a completely different universe. The walls were completely covered in color, and there was no concrete floor to be seen but instead paint splatter, confetti pieces, glitter, and scraps upon scraps of discarded - or undiscovered - material. To add to the different dimension, music reminiscent of meditation was playing; peaceful, and the kind that can elevate your soul if you listen to it long enough.

As we tread carefully, not wanting to disturb the art process, Dalceggio lightly declared, "You can step anywhere!"

The way the studio looks -- with all the bursts of color and contrasting images -- it almost could stand alone as work of art itself. Dalceggio explains how for him, "the creation is really a ritual. I see it [as] very shamanic and ritualistic, so I always have to go into a trance to feel free and loose - and lose your human shape, almost - to go look at the world and get a vision and then bring it back to the world of humans." The studio is like a temple, he says, and it acts like a place "where reality does not exist."

For Dalceggio, when creating new art, he never considers the individual number of pieces he will complete; "For me, it's all about creating one energy, one vision, so whatever's needed to create that, I'll do it." His art can take the form of sculptures, writings, videos, paintings, projections, and small drawings, all of which he utilizes for his Art Basel exhibit.

Despite Art Basel being a few weeks away, Dalceggio says he will still be working on adding final touches and small details to each piece "until the day the exhibit opens."

"I love a lot of details, and I like how people can dive into the vision and spend time and discover details and secrets and create their own legends and their own stories." Dalceggio adds how he hopes attendees will experience "seven minutes of freedom" as they walk around the gallery.

The most interesting aspect about Dalceggio's studio is the towering Mickey-Buddha statue. Replicated almost a dozen times, Dalceggio has taken two of the world's most popular icons and fused them together. His main vision for this exhibition is universal peace, therefore by taking an image that is highly commercialized (Mickey Mouse), and another that is highly idolized (Buddha), he is bringing together "two opposite visions of the world, because it's now time to cut the difference and put them all together in the blender and bring about universal peace."

His idea behind the exhibit was inspired by an old Persian poet from the Middle Ages who advocated love and freedom, "so my idea was like a call for universal peace... it's time to take all the opposites, all the different cultures, and create this new icon for universal peace."

Aside from his new icon, Dalceggio will also be showing a short artistic video placed in the body of the Mickey-Buddha titled The Labyrinth of Liberation, which he describes as a film about "seven keys to reach a new level of consciousness." The purpose of the film is for you to "shake yourself, provoke yourself, and ultimately free yourself," he says. The film is like a journey to self-discovery - "actually, it's a trip!"

Adding to the trippy nature of the film, some of Dalceggio's pieces are made to quite literally pop out at you - with 3D glasses, that is. He walks over to a spot in the wall and takes down some retro 3D glasses, the ones with the red and blue film lenses, and hands them to us. Seeing the studio through the plastic film brought to light unseen details in all of the artwork; words popped from the walls, colors danced on the sculptures, and everything had an added layer of mysticism.

Dalceggio hopes that using the 3D glasses will change people's perception -- and not just in the expected way. "I always say that to be able to go into the world of vision, or to see art, you have to leave the world of reality." He jokes that how we see the studio through the 3D glasses is how he normally sees the world all the time; "That's why when people come to the exhibition, I give them the glasses, so they can see what I normally see."

After his Art Basel exhibit, Dalceggio will leave Miami and travel to Brazil, where he will be for the next year and a half preparing for his first ever solo museum show at the MUBE Museum in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2015. According to Dalceggio, it will be a "massive, massive exhibition with music, video, and film called 'The Labyrinth of Liberation.'"

The "To Set Fire In The Heart Of The World" exhibit opens the first week of December at the Ricart Gallery, when his upstairs workspace will spill over the balcony and down the stairs and cover every corner. The special gallery hours for Art Basel are as follows: Monday, December 2, noon - 10 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 10 a.m. - 7 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m.; Friday, December 6 and opening reception, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Saturday, noon - 7 p.m., and Sunday, noon - 5 p.m.

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Carolina del Busto is a freelance writer for Miami New Times. She nurtured her love of words at Boston College before moving back home to Miami and has been covering arts and culture in the Magic City since 2013.